Age of Consent
BY THE GODS... We are well met once again my Friends!!! We Salute the Spirits that have always been with us and still of course, remain. We welcome all New Spirits into the fold!!! In Nominie Metallus Ordo Sanctus!!!!!!! Some of you may think that AGE OF CONSENT is a new VIRGIN STEELE release, however, it`s not. This album was originally released in late 1988. But it was only available in a limited quantity for a limited time. Therefore many of you never had the opportunity to hear it, or even knew about its existence. Perhaps a good many of you may have heard rumors about it, but have been unable to find it. Now it can finally be heard and experienced once again. Or should I say anew?!! As with NOBLE SAVAGE, we have added several Bonus Tracks. But unlike NOBLE SAVAGE, they`ve not been added at the end of the original album proper. No, instead, I have re-sequenced the album and added the Bonus Tracks as if they had been planned from the beginning. "Why?", you may ask?! Well I wasn`t entirely pleased with the original album sequence, and I had planned on re-sequencing the album even if there weren`t any Bonus Tracks. Therefore, it made sense to think of the album in this new fashion - as a complete thought. Age Of Consent was a strange album, in a strange time for us. A severe paranoia surrounded us from management, record companies, etc. We had completed and released the highly acclaimed NOBLE SAVAGE album, finished two European Tours and were hungry to consolidate our position in the Metal Scene. In December of 1987, directly after our tour with BLACK SABBATH, we began recording in extremely high spirits. I clearly remember cutting the basic tracks for "LION IN WINTER", on NEW YEARS`EVE. The final mix was not complete until July 11, 1988. This was quite a long span of time in the studio for us. No other album before and none since, has taken anywhere near this long to complete. There were several factors to blame for this. First off, there was massive pressure put upon us by our management and various studio and record company people to create some type of "hit" in the States. This gave cause for many arguments, fights, chaos and insanity. I stormed out of the studio on several occasions and smashed up various pieces of equipment in fits of frustration. Edward, became a complete wreck during the recording. But being the trooper that he is, he plowed through and got the job done like a true professional! Everyone around us was trying to fuck with our style, our sound, our emotions and our technique. In the end, we stuck to our guns and all was well. But as one can imagine, there were some very tense moments, to say the least, during the process! Oh, yeah, as a result of all of the afore mentioned crap, Joe O`Reilly, our bass player at the time, cracked and in fact, is not on the album! I played keyboard bass on everything except "LION IN WINTER", where Edward played bass guitar! Other contributors to our delay were tape machines that ran at the wrong speed resulting in pitch problems with the guitars. It seemed that we were constantly recording guitars, because either the tape machines were defective, or we hated the sound. We would walk into the studio and erase all the tracks we had done the day before! This happened day after day! Other days, we would spend all day tuning!!! We were completely out of our minds and in "Studio Hell"! We were also totally behind schedule! We resorted to extreme measures, like recording for 12-16 hours straight, then we`d try to sleep on the floor in the studio for an hour or two, get back up to record for maybe six or seven more hours. It became quite ridiculous. Once again, never had this happened before, and not since ... Nor will it ever again!!! Looking back on it now, it seems very funny, but at the time it was a nightmare. At the end of the day, we were and still are very pleased with the fruits of our labor. AGE OF CONSENT, is like a "lost" VIRGIN STEELE album, and we are excited and proud to have this chance to present it to you at this time!!! It is an integral part of our History and development. The inclusion of the Bonus Tracks, brings the work full circle and we find it all very new once again. The original tracks were recorded in four different studios. With the addition of the Bonus Tracks we now have a total of five for this opus. We began working in a place in upstate New York called Bear Tracks. This studio is a converted old barn made of stone and timber, set in the middle of a very wooded area. It`s kind of a castle-in-the forest type of place. There`s a stream on the grounds and at night, as we would leave the studio to go back to our hotel, deer and all sorts of other woodland creatures would come out to drink and do their thing. Oh, yeah. There are mountains behind as well where we would hike a bit. In the winter it was rough, with ice and snow everywhere, I recall one night in particular when my car went off the road and into a ditch. We spent several hours freezing trying to push the car back onto the road. Before renting hotel rooms we slept in the studio. I slept in the vocal booth for a few weeks ... All in all, an interesting time.
Let`s talk about the albums`original tracks now... "THE BURNING OF ROME (CRY FOR POMPEII)", is an Epic song in the tradition of "NOBLE SAVAGE" or "THE ANGEL OF LIGHT". It features an Apocalyptic rhythm that is relentless in its drive for Heroism. Lyrically, it is a lament and a tribute to all the beautiful things in the world that are lost or destroyed by Violence and War. The opening sound you hear, are two of my swords clanging together, both forwards and backwards. We perform this one live - perhaps you heard it on our last Tour. "LET IT ROAR" follows and keeps up the frenetic pace quite nicely, while speaking of Freedom and letting out the Animal Nature within us to positive effect. The lyrics were inspired by our first trip to Europe. I came up with the opening verse on the plane to Iceland. "PRELUDE TO EVENING" wasn`t even listed on the original release!!! FUCKING SACRILEGE!!! No fault of my own, the record company/mananger decided to modify the song list I`d provided them with when the liner went to print, I guess!!! "PRELUDE", sets the mood for what is to follow; the sun sinks in flames of sadness, regret, pride, anger and strength. You can hear the colours of the sunset against the cloud filled sky. This piece is the start of a 'trilogy', of which the next song, "LION IN WINTER", is the centerpiece. "LION", roars through the life of a strong person in the winter of their years or waning days, who refuses to give up or give in to death, raging and fighting to live on for even one more moment or breath of life, light, the day, glory, immortality. In the end however, this person is taken by the "STRANGER AT THE GATE". That Stranger is Death. "STRANGER AT THE GATE", was a piano improvisation that I recorded one day and orchestrated a bit further later on. It concludes the song 'trilogy' and winds down all of the passionate emotions stirred up by the preceding tracks. This piece also went unlisted on the original release. "ON THE WINGS OF THE NIGHT" is a nocturne, or night song, about forbidden love and seduction. The participants could be human or inhuman, perhaps vampirish, if you will. "SEVENTEEN", ah yes, what can I tell you. This is a product of the "Age" it belongs to. We were quite passionate about all the women we were getting to know quite well on the club scene. Musically we enjoy the hi-energy and there is some nice vocal/guitar riff trading during the coda. Tons of fire! "TRAGEDY" is a sort of cross between a ballad and a rocker. It features a great solo by Edward. "STAY ON TOP" is the first 'cover' we ever recorded. I had brought a copy of the URIAH HEEP album Head First up to the studio. I played it during a break and everybody said, "Yeah, great song, we should do this." So we gave it a try. It`s funny that later on we had the good fortune to meet, tour with and become friendly with URIAH HEEP. Great people, great band! Check out their version, the rest of the album is great too. "CHAINS OF FIRE" had very early origins. In fact we were playing this as the encore on the European Tour with BLACK SABBATH, just prior to recording AGE OF CONSENT. "CRY FOREVER" originated on "AGE", however, you may know it from the LIFE AMONG THE RUINS album.Our record company liked it so much that they wanted to include it on "RUINS". A power ballad with guts and emotion. "WE ARE ETERNAL", originally closed the album. I thought it fitting to end with it here as well, as it sums up the mood, thoughts and feelings of the album quite nicely. That feeling of Immortality is important to maintain! OK, Now it`s time to discuss the Bonus Tracks. I wished to compose some things that were specifically for this re-release ,... so, I did. "PERFECT MANSIONS (MOUNTAINS OF THE SUN)", is one of the results of this wish. I call this type of song a SKY HYMN as it deals with the journey of the Spirit from one plane of existence to another and has a musical quality that is huge, boundless and open as the sky. Powerful emotions romanticism, delicacy and bombast combine beautifully here! I think of this song as a sequel of sorts to "THE BURNING OF ROME". It could be the very same person in both songs, narrating their feelings and experiences. "COILS OF THE SERPENT" follows. A treated piano and various effects conjure up the slithering and rubbing together of the coils of Lucifer in his guise as the Great Serpent. The scene is the Garden of Eden during the Temptation of Eve. This piece acts as the prelude to "SERPENTęS KISS". Here we have the unfolding of the rest of the drama, sung by The Serpent, Adam, Eve and God. Lucifer is in an extremely pissed off mood; he wants all Humankind to share his Fall and ultimately God to suffer the same fate as He. A true Epic, in the Barbaric-Romantic Style. The final Bonus Track, is "DESERT PLAINS", by JUDAS PRIEST. We tried it for the simple reason that we liked the song and felt we could VIRGIN STEELEIZE it. I`ve altered it by adding new keyboard textures, counter-melodies and a keyboard introduction. I`ve also taken various liberties with the melody and a few of the lyrics. The rest of the band has done their own thing with their parts as well. "DESERT PLAINS" possesses a similar hunger, lust and longing that many of the AGE OF CONSENT songs have. To me, it almost seems as if it could have been written for the album. It has that desperate quality that we conjure on tracks like "CHAINS OF FIRE", and "ON THE WINGS OF THE NIGHT".
It is great to have some tracks recorded here with the line up we presented on our last Tours. Edward and I are very pleased with the musical integrity of Rob DeMartino and Frank Gilchriest, and we look forward to the upcoming new album and gigs with great enthusiasm!!! During the composing of the albums' original tracks, I was spending a lot of time on the beaches of our Island watching the interplay of sun and sand, sky and water. I observed the growth and changes in myself and in my companions and I wanted the album to capture the essence of youth, life, energy and beauty as well as the affect of time on all of this and its end result of aging and death. My goal was to capture the fleeting Spirit of Immortality and the concept that the World is ours for a Season. Yes, we all change, yes, life is long (if you live) and yes, every Season or stage of it can and should be positive, beautiful and productive!!! That which doesn`t kill us make us stronger. I hope you enjoy all of this ..... we`ll see you again soon on tour, and also with the release of the conclusion of the Epic "MARRIAGE" trilogy as realized with the upcoming "A SEASON IN PURGATORY" album!!! May Sunlight Darkness, Energy and Beauty follow you all the days and nights of your lives. By the gods ...Mind-Body-Spirit ...!!!